After the Berlinale was inaugurated this week making public its support for the #metoo campaign, the festival is now struggling with a pushback from every where in Germany, where many are accusing the Berlinale of hypocrisy.
The festival of course rejected all the claims by presenting the inclusion of the hashtag into the motto for this year’s edition as a "platform for debate" with the following statement:
"The debate triggered by the Weinstein scandal is important and has led to the #metoo movement. #metoo has exposed the devastating extent of these sorts of unacceptable conditions. Beyond the subject of sexualised violence, the debate invites us to fundamentally challenge the power relationships inherent in our society. […] The international resonance that #metoo has been met with has quickly made it obvious that the problem is not confined to Hollywood: across the world, the individuals affected by such abuse have found the courage to go public with their stories. In Germany as well, ever more voices can be heard calling out concrete incidents occurring in the film and media branches."
But, what about those who cannot just speak?
On the 8th of February this year was made public by The Times that employees from Oxfam International, a British non-governmental organisation (NGO) were using their guest houses in Haiti to hold sex parties with paid local residents, most of them underage kids. Oxfam Belgian office director in Haiti; Roland van Hauwermeiren, fleeted Haiti and resigned after admitting to internal interrogations of the NGO that he affirmatively was using the villa rented for him to host prostitutes. Following, 13 other employees were fired after it was confirmed that seven of those employees were hiring underage locals for sexual entertainment in Oxfam’s villas in Haiti. Founded in 1942, Oxfam is the largest British NGO, which like many others entered Haiti amidst the great humanitarian crisis subsequently to the earthquake of January 12, 2010. Now in the line of fire after allegations that the NGO covered up the above mentioned report about the then ongoing investigation into allegations of misconduct by Haiti programme staff members, including claims of inappropriate sexual behaviour, bullying, harassment and the intimidation of staff. Even rape or attempt of rape in South Sudan, and assaults on underage volunteers at Oxfam stores in the United Kingdom, all this from 2011 only public now.
Meanwhile, in Guatemala, authorities arrested former president Alvaro Colom, and almost all his former cabinet, including former Finance minister Juan Alberto Fuentes Knight, the current president of Oxfam International. The former officials were detained on Feb. 13 as part of an investigation into corruption and could be charged with fraud. The British government expressed great consternation and enabled the Department for International Development (DfID) to start reviewing any involvement with Oxfam and other NGO of the likes receiving financial support from the government. While in Haiti Aviol Fleurant from the Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation, invited the NGO representatives to visit Haiti today to provide explanations.
Likewise, President Jovenel Moïse expressed textually online:
"What happened with Oxfam in Haiti is an extremely serious violation of human dignity […] There is nothing more outrageous and dishonest than a sexual predator who uses its position as part of the humanitarian response to a natural disaster to exploit needy people in their moments of greatest vulnerability."
Brian Concannon, executive director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy (IJDH) said that he expects this to be only the tip of the iceberg, since it is generally understood that the precarious socio-political structures of past governments served as lubricant for cases of sexual abuse, exploitation and paedophilia to remain unpunished by means of power abuse, as it is the case of foreigners carrying out these sort of activities for long periods of time without any substantial legal prosecution. There are thousand cases informally kept in record but unprocessed in Haiti about sexual assaults committed by soldiers of the United Nations military Occupation forces, particularly MINUSTAH, against Haitian youth and children. Then there are the cases with so-called missionaries, whom through simulated solidarity-guided endeavours, filter inside clusters of poverty at unstable countries to profit from these people's misery pretending that they care. As just recently the Justice Department of the United States revealed that Daniel Pye, a 36 years old man from Arkansas who owned an orphanage in the locality of Jacmel in Haiti from 2006 to 2012, was sentenced to 40 years in prison after it was verified he was sexually abusing the children.
Similarly, in the Dominican Republic the case of archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, former Vatican ambassador to the country who spent 8 years of his posting abusing street children, using a Dominican young seminarist as mediator and chauffeur was exposed, uncovering another Polish priest serving in the locality Juncalito. Both paedophiles were allowed to fleet the island avoiding prosecution in the country, being one caught in Poland and sentenced to prison, while the other died peacefully one year later, sitting in front of his TV while in a domiciliary arrest in the city of the Vatican where he was awaiting trial.
Sexual abuse & the culture of impunity
Ismael Ogando — March 6, 2019
VARIETY Berlinale Tackles #metoo Debate, Accused of Sexual Violence Hypocrisy. By Patrick Frater
(February 14, 2018)
HAITI LIBERTÉ Oxfam’s Haiti Sex Scandal. Isabelle Papillon
(February 14, 2018)
THE GUARDIAN Charities watchdog demands answers from Oxfam over Haiti scandal. Jamie Grierson
(February 10, 2018)
REUTERS Oxfam to set up independent commission to review practices. Reuters Staff (February 16, 2018)
REUTERS Polish priest jailed for seven years over child sex abuse. Reuters Staff
(March 25, 2015)
Die Welt 68th Berlinale Red Carpet.
RT News Guatemala’s ex-President Arrested Under Corruption Charges.
RT News A Lot of Funding’s Needed for Mosul’s Rebuilding Says Oxfam.